The Introduction

In continuation of The Decision

When Sneha said that she was ready to help she did not really have a plan. When she had seen Ajay crying she just wanted to be there for him. After a while when he calmed down, she tried to think clearly. What was it that she was supposed to do? How was she supposed to play the role of Smriti? She knew that whatever brought her to this would bring her to the solution. Holding Ajay’s hand in hers gave her some strength, though initially she had meant it to be other way round.
“To begin with”, she said clearing her throat “We need to talk to Smriti’s parents. Ask them what they have to say about this. Then, we need to really think about what the doctors want you to do. Last but not the least; we need to find a way to introduce me to Shreya.”

The ‘we’ in whatever Sneha said made Ajay feel less lonely. Finally he had a companion to share not only his grief and stress but also his responsibilities. He did not have enough words to thank Sneha. He tightened his grip on her hand and he knew that he had conveyed the thanks without any words. Sneha was right. The first and the foremost thing to be taken care of - was to introduce her to Smriti’s parents. He did not want to wait any longer and suddenly he felt ashamed of that. Was he really that eager to get rid of Smriti? He shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“It is alright, you need to do it at some point.” Sneha said. Ajay looked at her. He wanted to hug her. How did she understand him so much? How could she understand the turmoil he was going through? How did she feel what he felt? There had to be some explanation for it.
Ajay took out his cellphone and dialed Smriti’s father’s number. The call was attended on the second ring. He was waiting to hear the news about his daughter. But, Ajay knew that he was not ready for what Ajay was going to tell him. Ajay decided it was better they talk face to face and meeting them at their house was not a good idea because Shreya would be there. Ajay asked him if he could come to visit Smriti in the hospital. Ajay wanted to talk to both the parents but leaving Shreya alone at home was not possible.

Within a few hours Smriti’s father was in the hospital. Considering the time he had taken to reach here meant that he had left immediately after the call. He knew whatever Ajay had to say was really important. He could feel it in Ajay’s voice. Sneha decided to stay in the room with Smriti while Ajay got a visitor’s card for Smriti’s father and brought him to the I.C.U. floor. Instead of taking him to the room, Ajay requested he stay in the waiting area. Then, he asked Sneha to walk out of the room and so she did. The old man was so shocked to see her that Sneha realized he was holding his breath and feared that the old man might have an attack. After a while, the shock was replaced by a broad smile as the old man walked towards her to embrace her. However, before he could reach her, Ajay stepped in and shook his head. Now confused, Smriti’s father asked Ajay what this meant and in reply to the question, Ajay simply directed the old man to the I.C.U. where Smriti was still lying in bed surrounded by tubes and wires. “Oh my God” the old man whispered before collapsing in the chair. Ajay walked closer to him and sat next to him on the stool while Sneha stood in a corner, suddenly feeling like an outsider. Well, she was an outsider, was she not? Sneha thought.

“What is all this? Who is this girl? What is she doing here? Why did you call me here?” the old man was full of questions.
“I will explain everything. Do you need some water dad?” Ajay asked. Smriti’s father shook his head. He was now staring at Smriti. He avoided looking at Sneha and she was well aware of that.
“This girl is Sneha. I met her yesterday. You can only try and imagine my shock when I saw her entering the room. Moments before she entered, I was praying for help. I needed guidance to handle the situation I find myself in, the situation we all find ourselves in. I know you do not want to believe that it is all over for Smriti. Trust me, even I do not want to believe it but the doctors have given up hope. How many days do we keep Shreya out of all this? And, is it really worth to bring her in and make her go through the pain we all are going through?” Ajay was trying desperately to put forth his viewpoint. He was bad at it, Sneha knew but she could not do or say anything. She preferred to play the role of a silent spectator.

Finally the old man looked in Sneha’s direction and the look he gave her made her cringe. There was immense hatred in his eyes, she felt paralyzed with fear. She imagined the old man cursing her under his breath for being a look alike of his daughter and maybe he was secretly hoping that it was her lying there on the bed instead of his daughter.
“Don’t be silly” she told herself, avoiding looking into the gaze of the old man.
“And – you think you have found a solution?” Smriti’s father almost spat out the words. The question was meant for Ajay but he still continued staring at Sneha, nailing her to the corner of the room. That moment, she wanted to be invisible. Be anywhere but in that room. She took a deep sigh when finally the man turned to look at Ajay.
“Very convenient” he said and stormed out of the room. Leaving Ajay and Sneha staring at each other, silence in the room, apart from the beep of the machine. Sneha slid down to the floor and bringing her knees close to her chest she wrapped her arms around them. She could feel her heart beat on her knees. She was scared. Very scared. She looked at Ajay. It seemed as if his healing wound was scratched and was bleeding again. Now, what were they supposed to do?